Find ways to balance capitalistic growth and socialist policies

Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Orchard Link and Orchard Road.
Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Orchard Link and Orchard Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Yaron Brook and Mr Don Watkins, who believe that we should care less about inequality in Singapore, would benefit from a tour of Housing Board rental flats to see how the residents make their livelihoods - by doing the unwanted jobs of our society (Why we should care less about inequality in S'pore, June 1).

The issue with meritocracy is that it does create structural inequality that can pull society apart.

Stress or tension in measured doses is useful in inspiring competition and mutual learning for societal growth.

But this can happen only if all levels of society are able to participate equally and benefit from this competitive growth, and this is often not the case.

There can be too much structural inequality, or an increasingly widening class and income divide.

Every nation has to find its own middle ground, where the optimal compromise between capitalistic growth and socialist policies can be found, to ensure a good balance of economic growth and societal harmony, in which all of its citizens feel that who they are and what they do matter regardless of their income or wealth.

This might be an ideal that we will always fall short of, but that does not mean that we cannot continue to do what is right.

I would recommend that Mr Brook and Mr Watkins read Teo You Yenn's This Is What Inequality Looks Like to better understand the experience of structural inequality in Singapore, and appreciate why some of us in Singapore might take inequality very seriously indeed.

Teoh Ren Shang (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2019, with the headline 'Find ways to balance capitalistic growth and socialist policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe